“I hat mi self”

This is my seven-year-old daughter. Her version of I Hate Myself.

Do you hear that sound? The banging and vibration? That was my heart. My throat closed up in sadness because my very young, sweet girl was feeling something so deep.

We all know that it’s tough to be a girl and grow up with social pressures, fit in and learn confidence. Add social media here soon. The sad truth is, we exchange these feelings of inadequacies for other things as women…that we’re not doing enough, could be doing more, hence the be in 20 places at once attempt (nearly daily). It’s exhausting. We need to stop being our own worst critic and build each other up.

And we need to stop it where it’s starting, with our little ones. I just had no idea it’d be so early.

After I got over the sadness and fear of what this would mean if she were older with such high suicide rates, we talked. We’ve been talking every night about this in different ways since then.

First of all, I sympathized with this deep, sadness. We’ve all been there (but we mostly remember that when we were older). She told me, “I just feel so alone sometimes. Like I don’t belong.” [Insert more tears. But I did wait until I was away from her for that.]

I let her in on the secret: EVERY girl and woman has these feelings. She is not alone in feeling this. And we talked about how to change the narrative in her mind. It’s too young to talk about confidence, or rather a little confusing, I tried. This is something that will need to develop with time and example. So we talked about what we’re thankful for. Every day since, we’ve highlighted the things that were funny or fun, and anything that bothered her. Something so little like an old friend has new friends on the playground, that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t mean that they are not friends anymore. She’s having issues with math (she’s in Spanish so can you imagine doing math is Spanish as well..) so we’re getting her help there so she can start to enjoy it again.

When I step back and look at this situation, I’m am astonished that she is able to vocalize these feelings so succinctly at such a young age. These are themes that adults even have trouble saying so definitively. There’s one thing for sure,  I wish someone would’ve told me about all these secrets and struggles that girls and women face.

But now she knows that these thoughts are a feeling that are so common, but they don’t belong to her. And most importantly, it’s not the truth. She doesn’t need to hold onto them and harbor that sadness, alone anymore.

Advertisements

Just Make it Happen Already

There are so many things that we say throughout our lives, “Oh, I’d love to do that…” and eye someone with envy when they’ve given themselves the permission to do something out of the box.

I think women are particularly hard on themselves for these sort of things. When I think of something I want to do, it has to make it past my list of priorities: husband and kids, writing, work, friends, and more.

I’d love to do that…but I’ll just be bringing the kids back from gymnastics and the timing is really tight.

I’d love to do that…but work just started to pick up.

I’d love to do that…but that’s like two months straight that I’ll need to find some backup to watch the kids.

Recently, a friend passed away from cancer and everything around me has seemed like a missed opportunity. My heart has been broken since her passing. She used to say every day counts.

We don’t get a second chance at our lives.

So this is a note to ask you what you’ve been wanting to do lately. And I give you permission to do it for yourself!

On Monday, I start ukulele lessons…get ready world!

ukulele

 

Life is Sweet, Make it Sweeter

I wanted to say, life is short. Sometimes too short. We never know how long we have on earth and sometimes we’re so sucked into the day-to-day ramblings, that we forget to take a pause, or a time out (as my daughter would say, though her time outs are a little different…).

A neighbor that I met through a writing event last summer was literally blogging  less than a month ago about being thankful, and an hour later, she and her husband were hit by a car while crossing the street.

My daughters and I just so happened to be driving by, what had to be moments after the accident, and saw a fire truck and ambulances. Not much happens in our smaller town that sits adjacent to Portland, so traffic slowed. My girls were peppering me with questions, “what happened? was it a person? will they be okay?”

I could see EMT crouching over someone in the middle of the road/cross walk and all I could think was that hopefully someone just felt faint, nothing more. As we drove on, I told my girls to say a little prayer that they’re okay, and we went on about our evening.

Last weekend, I opened the newspaper and my neighbor is on the front page, telling her story about how an elderly man hit her and her husband with his car, and by the grace of God, they survived.

The feelings are overwhelming…and I couldn’t believe we drove right past her. It seems like we should’ve been able to do something to help. She and her husband have a long recovery ahead of them, but she gets to spend more time with her family and friends.

She will no doubt appreciate life differently. It shouldn’t take something horrific to make the rest of us stop, take a moment and hug those close. Maybe smell the flowers.

corn_field_flower_220138

It was that kind of morning…

Isn’t it amazing how much influences us and our day? Every morning it’s usually chaos, getting the kids dressed and off to school/activities in between work and life.

This morning, there was no yelling or “that’s mine!” coming from the family room as I got breakfast ready.

There was no “that’s not fair” or “she pushed me.”

I heard two little girls playing, nicely. One even said, “I love you” to the other.

Wow.

So this morning in the car on the way to school, they continued sharing and the car was filled with giggles, instead of angry words.

“You two really make me happy when you’re smiling and having fun,” I said.

“Are we becoming big girls?” Avery asked.

Maybe they’ll go back to bickering tomorrow, but for today, I’m holding on to this.

As Ice Cube says, “Today was a good day.”

The Simple Things

I never expected how much I’d enjoy seeing the wonderment in my children’s eyes when they see something they like. These little kiddos are the perfect example (most of the time!!) of pure love and excitement. The thing that’s so amazing about watching through their world, is that they are so excited about the smallest, most simple things.

It makes you take a step back and just enjoy that moment with them.

A few weeks ago we went to visit friends in California and were able to go to Disneyland. While Disneyland is a kid’s dream, these girls got so very excited at the site of a parade or a special wand or a lollypop. Their jaws dropped open with pure awe and excitement.

If I could just channel some of that and just enjoy some of the simple things…

shocked

 

Unrequited Love: Oh the Irony

A long time ago in college, I decided to take a graduate level psychology class. I had already taken some of the lower courses for my minor and while I wasn’t a graduate student, the professor gave me permission to go ahead and take “The Psychology of Relationships.”

It was fascinating, the topics, yes, and also the class structure. There were only 10 of us and we sat around an oval-shaped table and discussed these topics. And at the end, we were to give a presentation that make up for 75 percent of our final grade.

My assignment, unrequited love. We partnered up with someone, like couples, to give our presentations.

I dug into the topic, this idea that someone could have such strong feelings for another and they were simply not returned. There were so many forms of unrequited love, the relationship that broke, someone pining over another, the love triangle, and more.

We studied the relationship cycle and how and why a person will decide to stay, very much akin to an abusive relationship, weighing pros and cons.

I took this all with me as I prepared, feeling a bit nervous to speak in front of this group that was at a minimum 2 years my senior, or more.

But first, I had a deadline to meet. I raced back to our media building as I was the editor in chief of our yearbook. We owed a number of pages to the printer and I was running back to that building in between classes, every chance I got.

My boyfriend had been on a trip to New Orleans with some friends from school, all guys and one new girl I hadn’t met yet. He was seemingly distant upon return, and while I had to saunter off to work towards these deadlines late a night, he decided to go to a bar with friends. I couldn’t have met him if I wanted too as I wasn’t even 21 at the time. But like all things complicated, I didn’t have time to sweat the small stuff and focused on my tasks at hand. The next day was my presentation and my big due date for yearbook.

While I certainly had a bit more fun than I needed too at school, I also took things like deadlines, commitments, etc. very seriously.  So day-of the big presentation, I rehearsed my speech and then headed off to the media building in between classes to review more copy.

Then, the phone rang at the media building (circa not many cell phones existing) and it was my boyfriend. He said I needed to come over, quickly, he had something important to discuss. Still rehearsing my presentation in my mind, I asked him if this could wait. He said no.

So with only an hour till my class presentation and still a large deadline looming over me, I drove over to his apartment, nearby our school campus.

He told me that he and the girl that came to New Orleans had something. That, “She made [his] head spin.” And I sat there, feeling all the feelings of disappointment, but more importantly, the anger at squashing that little voice inside my head that tried to tell me something was wrong. That little voice was screaming at me, but I pretended to be too busy. I didn’t have a rebuttal, how could I? I could’ve focused on the cheating aspect or been really angry with him (that all came later anyhow). But in that moment, I just walked away feeling a new sense of pain spread from my chest to my fingertips.

The irony was not lost on me. I could’ve simply given him my speech on unrequited love.

So during our presentation, the words “unrequited love” rang over and over again in my mind. I couldn’t help but grimace. All I could do was simply stare back at this class knowing they had no idea what I had just gone through. It couldn’t get more real than this, I thought.

Our grades had finally came in. And my professor gave us a B for the presentation. Turns out we didn’t have enough emotion.

 

Sand_Heart_break

Letter to My Daughters

Dear little ones,

I wanted to write you a letter to read when you’re older because life gets complicated, life gets busy, and you get busy with your complicated life.

Please remember that you can do anything you want in life. I want you to repeat this to yourself, like I do with you now. When we get older, we seem to come up with a million excuses or reasons why we shouldn’t try to do something. But I believe in you and I know you’re amazing.

Don’t give your heart out to everyone but give it fully to those you trust. A full heart makes for a happy life. You’ll never regret loving someone with all that you have.

Don’t trust everything you hear. People say a lot of things that don’t make sense. Remember who you are and decide for yourself.

Be a dreamer. Never stop.

Never compromise who you are. Feel confident enough in yourself to say what you believe and be strong enough to stand criticism. Others will learn from you if you can do that and it’s a great thing to pass along vs bullying.

No regrets. We all make mistakes, learn from them.

Don’t be a bully.

Don’t ever let yourself be bullied. Stand up for yourself no matter the stakes. Or at least call your mom.

Always know that you can come home. And that your mom has a hug waiting for you.

Caveat: Also, please know that mama has been around the block. Thereby, there shall be no sneaking out of your ground level windows. I will be standing outside upon your return. No closed doors with a boy in the house. Otherwise that party for two will become three.

At the end of the day, I’m still going to try to hold you in my arms even when you’re an adult. So slow down, enjoy life and don’t try to grow up so fast.

Love,

your mom.

 Letter to my Daughters